Came across some somewhat old, but new to me, NC interstate and US route signing news via the web, so I thought I'd summarize it with a blog post.
I-73/74-NCDOT has gotten approval from the FHWA to sign the section south of Emery to just beyond Ellerbe as vanilla I-73/I-74. It appears the reason why NCDOT signed the route Future I-73/I-74 when it opened in 2008 was that this section was not officially part of the interstate system. The FHWA mandated that this section could not be added until NCDOT let the contract for rehabilitating the section through Asheboro (I-4407). This contract was let in June 2010, and is due to be completed this fall. NCDOT finally got around to asking for permission to put up full interstate shields this spring and got an acceptance letter back in June (copies of this and other letters are on the NCDOT Route Changes page, Interstate section, HERE ) .
In a subsequent letter dated 7/11/12, NCDOT indicates this approval to the local FHWA office in Raleigh, they also ask that they be allowed to put up Interstate shields north of Asheboro all the way up to Greensboro (for I-73 anyway). Apparently back in 1997, when the routes were first signed south of Asheboro, FHWA approved the US 220 freeway from Greensboro south to Emery as part of the interstate system with design exemptions for some of the exit ramps. They would not allow NCDOT to sign the rest of the route as a full interstate until they fixed five design problems that were not exempted (you guessed it, in the Asheboro stretch from SR 1462 to NC 134/Business 220). Again, the I-4407 project due to be completed this fall will do this. It may be that NCDOT waited to get approval for the Ellerbe section so that they could re-sign both Future interstate sections as full interstates at the same time. And, coincidentally, the new section of I-74 connecting to US 220 should be completed around the same time. It could be that by this time next year I-73 and I-74 will be signed from just south of Ellerbe northward to High Point for I-74 and Greensboro at I-40 for I-73.
US 311-Last year NCDOT finally got around to posting US 311 signs north from US 220 in Mayodan to NC 14 in Eden along an extension approved at least five years before. Well, guess what, now they want to extend the route again. Actually, the idea started across the border in Virginia where boosters of a new development called the MegaPark, just north of Eden and south of US 58, thought having a US route run by their property would be good for business. They initiated contact with NCDOT who agreed to study what needed to be done to extend US 311 further north along NC 14 and NC 87 to NC 770 to NC 770 to the border then along Berry Hill Road in VA to US 58. In a letter to VADOT, NC officials indicated the study was underway and they planned to have the necessary paperwork sent to AASHTO's US Route Numbering Committee by March 31, the deadline for applications to be considered at the next meeting of the committee in May. Since its a 2-state routing VADOT has to send in an application by the deadline as well. If both get the paperwork in, and its approved, how long will it take for signs to go up this time (at least in NC)?
Future I-295-One of the new routes approved by NCDOT in the past year is NC 295. Which, not coincidentally shares the route of current Future I-295 in Fayetteville from I-95 to US 401. Apparently this was done to officially define the Fayetteville Loop as an NC state highway for funding and legislative purposes, an oversight apparently not caught until last year. This probably will not result in any NC 295 signs going up along this route though which is to become an official interstate when the next stretch of the Loop is completed in a couple years.
Thanks to NCDOT for giving me highways to check up on when I am down in NC this summer.